1) Palm trees: Since moving to LA, I have taken an interest in palm trees. I truly enjoy seeing them all lined up along the streets, especially against the backdrop of those beautiful fiery and cotton candy-inspired skies we’ve been experiencing lately.
2) Friends and family: Being 400 miles away from family is one thing, but being an ocean away is another. While I don’t get to see my immediate family on a daily basis, I am going to miss driving to San Francisco and hearing my niece Melina and nephew Daron yell “hokooooor!” as I walk through the door. And of course I’m going to miss meaningful conversations with friends about love and life, usually over a drink or a cup of coffee. I guess we can still do that via Viber or Skype, but with the time difference and a computer screen, it just won’t be the same.
3) Habit Burger: While I am considered a picky eater and don’t eat a whole lot of meat, I do enjoy a good burger. For my high-end needs, my go-to is the Houston’s burger (which I call a gourmet Whopper), but for everyday, I crave the charbroiled burger at The Habit (along with the tempura green beans dipped in ranch and a fountain Coke – yum!).
4) Smiley people: In comparison to Armenia, people in America (and my neighborhood Studio City) are really smiley and happy, at least on the surface. While we don’t know what they’re really feeling inside or if the appearances are fake, it’s a nice feeling being greeted by ear-to-ear grins and warm hellos from strangers. That’s not to say that Hayastantzis haven’t definitely warmed up since the ’90s, but they’re not as chipper as Americans.
5) Customer service: The customer service in Armenia has gotten infinitely better than during my earlier visits (in 1991, I spilled tea at the Ani Hotel and the waitress told my mom to – gasp! – clean it up with her skirt), you just can’t beat the mentality that the customer is always right. I don’t love having having to hail my waiter down like I would a taxi cab in NYC, but I’m definitely going to have to change my mentality about that.
6) Starbucks: Every day, I look forward to going to my local Starbucks on Laurel Canyon and Riverside to work and to get my grande iced decaf Americano with vanilla and half and half (or Breve as Starbucks calls it). How am I going to order that in Armenian?!
7) Driving: Most people hate driving in Los Angeles, especially during traffic hours (which could very well be at 2 am), but I am going to miss taking my car out for a spin whenever I please. Upside: walking in Yerevan will definitely be healthier for me and taking a taxi will be way cheaper than gas.
8) Credit cards: I never have cash. That is, unless my dad gives me money when I go home to visit (I’m still his little girl after all). I enjoy the convenience of using a credit card, plus who doesn’t love getting points?!
9) White sneakers: I just realized that two of my favorite sneakers are white and I can’t make use of them in Armenia. Between all the walking I’m going to do and all the dust and dirt in the streets, it’s just not going to work. Major bummer.
10) Zumba: I have come to rely on Zumba as my only form of exercise. When I hear those upbeat Latin jams, my body automatically starts moving. But my mom told me Gold’s Gym (down the street from our apartment in Komitas) offers Zumba so I’ll have to look into it. I only hope the teachers are half as good as my favorite Zumba teachers Lucia, Sandy, and Melissa.